Jesus: Son of God or Liar

Does anyone actually believe those are the only two options?

There are several forms of it. Not sure what the original one was. It may have been created by Lee Strobal in the Case for Christ.

Do you realize, Joe, that you just introduced a third option - thereby cracking the argument?

actually the original one...has been around since the start of the church.

But CS Lewis also refered to it...long before Stroble.

Do you think that's a fair framing of the debate, Sherm?

it's one very rational take on it

There is no "very rational". It's either rational or not.

For it to be "rational", it must be based on reason. Starting off with a false set of choices - a blatant logical fallacy - is a sign of a specious and manipulative argument.

would it be possible he was a prophet and his message was misread? would it be possible there were 2 Jesus' and the Church amalgamated them?

There are an unlimited number of options before us, Bludhall. martial_shadow names a couple of them.

Now, we can get into a debate about how reasonable these options are, but the point of this thread is that the presumption of TWO and only two possibilities is a calamity of good judgement.

btw, the discerning reader will quickly realize that this thread is neither pro-Christian nor anti-Christian. It's merely cleaning up a fallacious argument.

of course it is

Or the option based on a lot of historic evidence- The stories of Jesus are a conglomeration of previous mythic/religious figures- I.E -dying for sins, rising from the dead a few days later-put into one figure by the writers of the bible.

"There is no "very rational". It's either rational or not."

You don't believe there can be degrees of rationality-- or of irrationality? Of course there is.

One can come up with any number of other options, but in order for them to be considered of some value shouldn't they have some foundation?

For instance, we could argue that we simply misunderstood Jesus' message. That seems fair enpugh. But on what basis would you reasonably argue he was misunderstood? You have some text of verifiable provenance that would lead you to believe this? Some message he provided that demonstrates a misunderstanding? No. Since you don't, and we're all talking about being rational and reasonable here, it seems fair to point out that is not a rational alternative because we have extant texts of accepted provenance on which to base our opinions.

"Now, we can get into a debate about how reasonable these options are, but the point of this thread is that the presumption of TWO and only two possibilities is a calamity of good judgement."

That's the problem here. The two options are based on what we know of Jesus from the texts we have from his followers and the letters of Paul who knew and spoke with his apostles. What are your other options based upon? Why not argue he was a space alien who took human form and tried to teach humanity about brotherhood and sharing? You can hardly lecture us on reasonableness in one breath, and then post counter-options with little or no rational foundations in the next.

"Or the option based on a lot of historic evidence- The stories of Jesus are a conglomeration of previous mythic/religious figures- I.E -dying for sins, rising from the dead a few days later-put into one figure by the writers of the bible."

Those theories are based on historical evidence?

You do realize those theories have been pretty thoroughly picked apart by both historians and students of comparative religion, correct?

hey pneuma,

A reasonable person can believe that the bible is not the inerrant word of God. I could make a far stronger statement than that, but I want to make one we both can agree upon. That reasonable person can read an inflation of the Jesus stories in these texts. Given that, a reasonable person can read the Gospels as "based on a true story", rather than as an historical documentary of our current standards (which, incidentally, didn't even exist at that period of time.)

The point is, the argument I've cited of the "either THIS or THAT" is disingenuous and manipulative...like Bush's "you're either with us, or against us".

The third alternative is that the Bible is not trustworthy which begs the question why so many who believe that won't just discard the life of Jesus as depicted there.  Rather the most common thing is to try to salvage him as a great moral teacher which means extracting whatever words attributed to him you approve of from those you don't.

"Rather the most common thing is to try to salvage him as a great moral teacher which means extracting whatever words attributed to him you approve of from those you don't."

Absolutely. It's what I've done and shows yet another viable third alternative.

Jesus is son of God, just like you and me.

"A reasonable person can believe that the bible is not the inerrant word of God. "

That's got nothing to do with it. I certainly do not believe the bible is inerrant. But where I believe it errs, I have good reason to believe it.

Let's leave the bible out of it.

Consider this passage from Herodotus' "Histories", probably written in the lower half of the 400s BC:

"Babylon revolted. The revolt had been long and carefully planned; indeed, preparations for withstanding a siege had been going quietly on all through the reign of the Magian and the disturbances which followed the rising of the seven against him, and for some reason or another the secret never leaked out. When the moment finally came to declare their purpose, the Babylonians, in order to reduce the consumption of food, herded together and strangled all the women in the city each man exempting only his mother, and one other woman whom he chose out of his household to bake his bread for him."

Now suppose I come along and I deny that the revolt and preparations had been carefully planned. I think it happened on the spur of the moment with no preparation and in a fit of madness. I think it was all over a woman.

I would have to have something to base that on to contradict Herodotus' account, no? Some different text of history which seems more objective, some archeaology which clearly points to a sudden revolt as opposed to the planned one Herodotus describes.

Unless I have that, what reason do I have to doubt Herodotus' account?

It certainly would be silly to consider those who think the revolt was carefully planned irrational, since Herodotus provides the only account of the seige we have, wouldn't it?

The problem with the third alternative is that you have no other basis for what you choose to believe other than what you happen to like.  You have to ignore the strange words of what appears to be an otherwise very reasonable man.  You have to ignore the claims of divinity and talking about hell and eating his flesh and blood. 

It is true that you can create a palatable Jesus in your own image but this stems not from wanting to know the whole truth about the real man Jesus but rather from imposing your presuppositions on the entire story.  I believe the expression is "erecting a little tin god".

In other words, its not an intellectually consistent alternative.

"That's got nothing to do with it. I certainly do not believe the bible is inerrant. But where I believe it errs, I have good reason to believe it."

It's got everything to do with it.

The moment one admits that, a flexibility of interpretation enters in that will cause all sorts of opinions about Jesus.

The problem with quoting Heroditus is that for your comparison to be more accurate, you would have to quote a Babylonian apologist for your version of history, rather than a neutral observer. The bible has an account of an angel of the lord smiting Senecharab, the Assyrian king, while Senacharib's account has Judah paying him tribute.